One Day without Us – Celebrating the Contribution of Migrants

One Day without Migrants leaflet

Today, events have been taking place around the UK for #1DayWithoutUs. It is being held to celebrate the contribution that UK migrants make to the UK. The event coincides with the House of Lords meeting today to debate the Article 50 Bill, where Peers will also consider the rights of three million EU citizens in the UK after Brexit.

According to the New Economics Foundation, the UK economy would take a £328m hit and daily GDP would fall by 4% if all non-British citizens if all migrant workers stayed at home for a day. But this isn’t just about finances, it’s also about families, friendships… and even food.

Family and Friends – what would we do without them?

EU citizens such as my friend Frederika Roberts, have been busily tweeting under the hashtags #BargainingChip and #RighttoStay. A businesswoman and mother of two tri-national, university-aged daughters, Frederika is Italian and German, grew up in Luxembourg has lived in the UK for over 25 years.

She says “I have lived here since 1990 and have built my entire adult life here. Even assuming I can stay after Brexit under whatever new rules will be in place, the system doesn’t seem able to cope with the required paperwork. It could grind to a halt with 3+ million people needing to get documents.

Without those documents, we could end up in limbo for years, effectively trapped in the UK for fear of being denied re-entry after holidays or business trips. And we could end up living here without access to the NHS.”

The last point is especially poignant. Both of Frederika’s daughters were born with congenital heart disease. Her eldest had open heart surgery at four years old and aged 12 had an out of hospital cardiac arrest. Her youngest was born with a rare heart disease; pulmonary atresia. Frederika was advised to terminate the pregnancy but chose not to. At just ten days old, their baby stopped breathing and her heart stopped. Amazingly, both girls made complete recoveries, and her eldest has recently started university.

Frederika and her family have been present at today’s Leeds rally and have been sharing their experiences via Social Media. Most appear to be positive, yet in one social media post, her elder daughter wrote: Handing out leaflets for today and just got reminded why I’m doing this. I gave a guy a leaflet, he went away, read it, came back shaking his head and said: “Sorry love, I don’t agree with it.”

Migrants & Freedom to Travel

EU migrants have contributed to healthcare, business, education and other sectors. As a daughter of immigrants with British citizenship, I see the value of broadening horizons. Having studied and worked in the EU (Germany) myself, I often remind others that we are equally as free to migrate to other EU countries for our own personal or professional reasons.

Here in the UK, I’ve worked in international teams and have built close friendships with people who are now worried about their future right to stay and what that means for their partners or children.

I and others that have lived in the EU have experienced goodwill towards British residents in the EU. The attitude in mainland Europe seems to be that migrants are simply citizens exercising their EU citizenship rights. I hope that our leaders will recognise the value of EU citizens too.

Setting an Anchor – Your Quick Cheat for Increased Confidence

anchor NLP

In life, there are situations that can cause us disproportionate anxiety. Public speaking is one of those situations. Fortunately, I have a simple trick for you. I’m going to teach you how to set yourself an anchor (here’s a video if you need more support). What’s that? Anchors are external stimuli that trigger a particular internal state or response.

The way anchors make you respond at an unconscious level can be positive or negative.  To illustrate what I mean, I’m going to share some well-known anchors, and some of mine – how I have set anchors and how I’ve reframed others.

Anchors can be sights (e.g. a certain place), sounds (e.g. songs), touch/feelings (e.g. a stroke on your arm), smells (e.g. an aftershave/perfume) or tastes (e.g. a flavour that you experienced in the context of a situation or place). Symbols such as the Cross, the Om sign and globally recognised logos, such as FedEx are simply anchors.

I will share a positive anchor that I use for confidence before speaking engagements, which I set myself in 2005 and is still as effective now, almost 12 years on.  During my NLP Practitioner course, the trainer asked what kind of anchor I would like to set.  I felt that ‘Confident’ would stand me in good stead for any kind of public speaking, since I had started to do a lot of it.

Setting an Anchor

First of all, I decided what kind of positive state I’d like to be in and decided how I would set my anchor (in my case, by pressing my left thumb and index finger together). I then closed my eyes and regulated my breathing, taking slow, deep breaths.

When I was in a fully relaxed state, I recalled a time in the past when I’d been in that state.  I thought of a time when I’d spoken at a conference on Diversity, had received a standing ovation and a number of people had come up to me afterwards for my business card.

I then re-lived it as vividly as possible by amplifying the experience and the feelings connected to it in my head. I kept upping the feeling to the point where it was about to reach its peak.  At that point I pressed together two fingers on my left hand to set that feeling as an anchor. Then I let the feelings subside, focussed on my breath once again and slowly opened my eyes.

The anchor that I set is discreet and I’m able to use it whenever I want to feel extremely confident.  I have another one for feeling joyous. It’s important to be consistent by using the same anchor (i.e. same fingers or tap in the same place) each time.

You can set anchors for interview or first date confidence, handling a difficult conversation – whichever situation you need it for.

Releasing Emotional Connections

Positive anchors that I didn’t consciously set are songs by Kings of Leon and Warwick Avenue by Duffy – for differing reasons, but they make me feel great.

Negative anchors – hmm…In the past, when I used to see an Audi Estate my stomach would flip.  I always thought it was a certain person that I didn’t want to see. Seeing a car of the model and colour that person drove made me feel so anxious.

I released this through desensitising myself to the anchor by disassociating with it (a good job, since in a bizarre twist of fate, my dad now owns an almost identical model).  This is about learning new habits or responses and requires being in a strong state, so it might be something you need will support with.

Have a go and remember, there’s no need to be disheartened if it doesn’t work the first time.  Your subconscious is a powerful tool – you may need a few attempts or some support from an experienced NLP practitioner.


A bit about me: Your voice is your power. Let me help you be be heard.

If you’d like more confidence in public speaking, networking or even in your day-to-day communications, I can help through workshops or 1-2-1 coaching. Trained in public speaking and media handling, I have a range of tools and techniques to support you.

To arrange a discovery call, email anj@anjhandaassociates.com.

 

Bragging rights: celebrating your own achievements

Woman with cone symbolising bragging

“I know words. I have the best words.” Donald J. Trump

Nobody likes a boaster, the kind of person who brags about their connections and drops names at every turn, without giving their claims any kind of substance.

It’s is when people use a tenuous connection to make themselves appear more important. It may be that they drop in a name, followed by a pause to allude to the weight of the relationship; or mention a place, such as an educational institution, exclusive restaurant or holiday destination.

The most ludicrous example I’ve witnessed was when I heard a senior University figure asking a first-year student if they’d ever eaten at a certain award-winning eatery. It was clear that this was his way of establishing his status and making small talk within his own circles. He was at a loss when it came to creating connection with a broader audience.

Why do we downplay what we’ve accomplished?

In a desire not to be seen to be bragging, we often go too far the other way and downplay our achievements. Being too humble isn’t helpful when you’re looking to secure business – clients need to understand the value that they will get from working with you. They’re not mind-readers!

In some cases, it’s because we’ve been brought up not to be boastful. Family members, especially parents, feel the need to take us down a peg or too. This is their way of protecting us, but can be damaging for our progression. It’s difficult to ignore feedback from the ones we love, but we are seeking validation from the wrong quarter if we do listen too closely.

My dad is 84. Even when I worked as a Director at a quango in what he knew to be a well-paid job, he simply didn’t ‘get’ what I did for a living. Nor did switched-on relatives. Some thought I worked for the Council, others that I worked in translation. So why would I expect them to understand what I do as a self-employed professional?!

However, I did exactly that! Dad often tells me (out of love and a wish to keep me ‘safe’) that I should get a nice comfortable job in the Council. He didn’t even listen when my big sister from the States. When she last came to visit, she told him that I was the last person he should be worried about, I’m on my path. You’d think he’d have given up by now…

Our old friend, Imposter Syndrome….

I’ve written many times about imposter syndrome. It’s where people ‘internalise their accomplishments and [have] a persistent fear of being exposed as a “fraud”. Love, it’s not bragging if it’s true!

You should become comfortable with owning your achievements, if they’re relevant to the dialogue and especially if they form part of your skills portfolio. Endorsements, reviews and testimonials are powerful tools that should support your personal branding mix. Please don’t be afraid to ask for them. If you’ve done a good job, clients are usually more than happy to be asked.

Celebrate your achievements – without bragging

You can’t change what people say to you, but you can change the way you hear process their advice. Hear then out, then take a step back and decide whether accepting it would be useful to you.

When you start believing in yourself, you radiate confidence and this is when work starts to flows better.

A great way of putting together your pitch, LinkedIn/CV profile or website introduction is to ask at least one person who has worked with you to review it. A supportive friend who understands your work can help you to distil your offer.

Try it out. Here’s an example of how I work with organisations. You can use the text in bold to help you with your own structure.

I work with clients who want to develop an engaged and productive workforce by improving their employment practices, because I love to see people thrive. I’m best at creating connections and ‘translating’ complex information into meaningful briefings.

I’ve helped clients such as first direct and ITV, as well as smaller organisations, create employee engagement and diversity initiatives. I’ve spoken internationally on this subject, learning and sharing good employment practice from diverse organisations.


To find out more about my work, check out the rest of my website or connect with me on LinkedIn.

 

 

Beyond suicide – sending a letter into the ether

Yellow funeral rose

Danny, I haven’t blogged in a while, but today is a special occasion: it would’ve been your 35th birthday. I’m sorry that I haven’t written sooner, but it’s been a weird time. I had to report someone missing before Christmas, just like I did for Kai back in 2001. It was traumatic, but also I recognised how much better I manage my inner balance now.

You can’t always spot when someone is considering suicide (I should know, because you sure didn’t give us clues), but there are some warning signs I was taught to look out for through mental health training.

Changing normal routine, including eating or sleeping patterns; giving away belongings or getting affairs in order when there is no other logical explanation for doing this; saying goodbye to people as if they won’t be seen again; developing personality changes. I observed these signs, plus some more.

Unlike with Kai, after a fortnight of trauma, this particular story had a happy (ish) ending for their loved ones. The individual is still around to tell their tale.

Enough about them. This blog is about you. And Kai. And all the others who were in such a dark place that they felt that there was no other way but to leave. It’s also for the people left behind. There’s always a way, Danny. You were both so bright and so proud. Perhaps that’s why you didn’t speak up? I wish you had. Maybe there was nothing I could have said or done in the end, but at least you would’ve known how much you were loved, by so many.

I can’t forget how I heard. It was the day after my birthday (wait until I see you in the ether, you’re in BIG trouble). I’d just got back from a trip away. Our friend, the one who found you, called me. “Are you home?” “Yes, why?” “Would you come over?” Intuition kicked in and I drove over immediately, although I later learned he was still at the police station when he called.

Bereavement and the highs and lows of social media

I don’t want to talk about how raw that night was, but I do want to talk about the blessing and the curse that is Facebook. We spent the next 48 hours in ‘control and command’ mode, parking our own emotions to inform as many friends as possible before the news leaked onto social media.

Your page now serves as a kind of memory sharing bank for family and friends. It’s a comforting place for many, but not all, of us. Facebook’s Memory Hop feature can be a lovely, nostalgic thing; on the other hand it can share old posts you would rather remain hidden.

When I eventually sought bereavement counselling (from Cruse) three months later, it was because all the emotions I’d suppressed following Kai’s death ten years previously hit me many over when I was finally ready to confront my feelings.

At the start of my third visit, my counsellor said to me “You’re trained in all of this [mental health], you know what’s going on… Do you know what your problem is, Anj?” I was taken aback, as I’m sure that isn’t a counsellor’s usual approach, so I simply replied “What?”

“Your problem is CONTROL. You’re such an organised person that you’re struggling because these events were out of your control.” I looked at him, mouth agape. Then I recovered. “You’re right. Thanks, bye!” And off I went, on a journey to release control, be more in the flow and do as much as I could to help others in a similar position.

Influencing decision-makers

Part of this journey was to be invited by the National Suicide Prevention Alliance to write the foreword for Public Health England guidance on local suicide prevention services. It’s called ‘Support after Suicide: A guide to providing local services,’ and boy is it needed.

Since you always were blessed (even if you didn’t see it yourself), the guidance was released yesterday, within your birthday week, even though I wrote my piece some months ago. I received a letter of thanks from Public Health England last night, on a posh letterhead and everything. I especially miss you on milestones such as birthdays, so thanks for that little intervention to make me smile.

Love you,

Anj x


Suicide prevention – seeking help

If you’re concerned that a loved one is thinking about taking their life, don’t worry about asking them about it. Talking to them won’t make them act.

As an individual, you’re not expected to make a judgement call. It is up to experts to do this. Your responsibility is to report it to a trained professional and let them decide on the most appropriate course of action. This can include the police and charities such as CALM (call 0800 58 58 58) or The Samaritans (call 24 hours a day on 116 123 in the UK).

How to tackle bigotry (spoiler: it starts with you).

Tackle bigotry

My inner child is feeling pensive and a bit sad. I’ve noted an increasing occurrence recently, of hurtful (sometimes hateful) comments about minorities of all kinds not being taken seriously. It’s not that bigotry has increased – it’s always been there – but rather that people seem to feel more free to express their negative views.

We humans are prejudiced. We’re not perfect. As my friend Todd said recently:

“Nice people sometimes say not nice things behind closed doors.”

This post isn’t about racism per se, it’s about how we show up in society. Here’s my story.

I attended a diverse comprehensive school. I was pretty popular, even if I didn’t realise it at the time. I was even left alone by the notorious school bullies, because I was good at hockey and they wanted me on their team.

At school, I was in the top set, but not so clever that I was called a swot. I had an accent that was Yorkshire enough and middle class enough so as to not be singled out. With my wide vocab, it wasn’t easy for anyone to play the old ‘bud-bud’ card on me.

University and work was relatively smooth sailing too, in the sense that I wasn’t on the receiving end of more harmful behaviour such as bullying or physical violence. The verbal abuse I’ve received over the years have been minimal compared to some of my circle.

Subtle Displays of Bigotry

However, the subtle, everyday racism and sexism that I and women like me experience would take your breath away if I listed it. I don’t want to give it air time. But it still hurts.

It hurts when people invalidate those feelings by saying “I’m sure they didn’t mean it like that” or “But I have friends who are gay/black/Asian” or “I’m offended that you think I’m racist” (their word, not mine).

Please don’t make apologies for it; or tell a person that they’re being over-sensitive or over-reacting, because you’re not in their shoes. Angry posts from people on the receiving end aren’t helpful either…

Because whichever angle you look at it from, blame and fear do not lead to human connection.

A Personal Perspective

It’s not easy to explain, but I’m going to try from my own personal perspective. It hurts because of the collective experience; the bigotry that my parents, my siblings and wider family experienced. We can’t out-logic that kind of hurt, which is carried in our ‘pain bodies.’ (If you’d like a more scientific explanation, look up trans-generational epigenetic inheritance, a fairly new body of research).

It also hurts to see others around me experience it, because I have experienced this unfairness myself and I empathise. Those sideways glances, whispered comments to downright hostility.

The comments veiled as compliments are no better: “I like dusky maidens;” “You’re one of the good ones;” “You’re pretty for a black girl” (the latter said to one of my friends). They all imply ‘otherness.’

There’s a choice. You can choose dignity, empathy and respect over discrimination, judgement and bigotry. You can choose to be the nice person that says nice things, even behind closed doors. It feels good.

The choice is yours, but I hope you’ll make this one: LOVE.


About me: I’m the founder of Inspiring Women Changemakers, a vibrant movement for women leaders who want to create positive social change. An award-winning campaigner who has been featured in the global media, my core values include fairness and equality. They underpin everything that I do.

There are many people who have a deep desire to see harmony in their communities. Together we can achieve that vision. Join in!

How to get your voice heard… and stop being interrupted!

Blah, blah. blah...being interrupted

Women at all levels frequently relate their concern about the language used to describe them. Many of us are frustrated by being interrupted, ignored or invalidated. Alternatively, it can be the reverse: having our ideas repeated back to us, or attributed to the man who speaks next.

A study by James Broadbridge, University of Birmingham, entitled ‘An Investigation into Differences between Women’s and Men’s Speech,’ revealed that men are more likely to interrupt and are less likely to be interrupted. What causes this? A lack of self-awareness; an inability to recognise that women are capable of discussing weighty issues; a combination; or something else?

In “You Just Don’t Understand,” Deborah Tannen, a linguist at Georgetown University, seeks to explain this concept. She suggests that men talk to determine and achieve status; while women talk to determine and achieve connection.

Whilst this may seem like a generalisation, I’ve observed this dynamic play out time and time again in conversations between men and women. I’ve also witnessed the power play amongst groups of men where there was at least one ‘alpha male.’ Findings from a survey of US and UK professional women in ‘Hear and Now,’ a book on public speaking by Chris Davidson, also support her theory.

Personal Experiences

Here are some of my own experiences from this month, October 2016.

  • Discussion with friends on Brexit. A male friend who voted Leave raised points about employment, skills requirements and immigration. Despite the fact that I have policy expertise in this field – I’ve even spoken at conferences in the US and Europe on the subject – he simply spoke louder and louder to drown me out. Having had enough of being interrupted, I reminded him of my professional experience. Still, he persisted and recommended reading more on Wikipedia (because *obviously* that’s a reliable and credible source of information).
  • Following the announcement of Caudrilla’s fracking operations being given the go-ahead, I shared a news article on my Facebook page. I added my own commentary with a few disturbing facts that I had learned about fracking, evidence-based facts from credible sources. A friend, a male partner at a consultancy firm, added underneath “This is a desperate post.” That old chestnut… the ‘hysterical female.’ The ironic thing was that he actually agreed with me. He eventually apologised, but not before ‘mansplaining’ what fracking entails.
  • I recently gave the inspirational, pre-lunch talk at a conference in Leeds. During networking breaks, while I was deep in conversation with someone, a man (different each time) interrupted, without asking if it was OK to join the conversation. They then proceeded to change the subject, addressing the other male. This happened on three separate occasions.

Unconscious Bias

This article is not about men-bashing. In fact, many men are dismayed when their behaviour is pointed out. It’s often unconscious. Soraya Chemaly, who describes herself as a feminist and writer, describes the root of the problem as:

‘Good old-fashioned sexism expressed in gendered socialization and a default cultural preference for institutionalized male domination of public life.’

Further, I’ve observed that the men most likely to indulge in this behaviour appear to fall within a particular age bracket, fifty plus. I’ve mostly encountered it from males who work in certain sectors; including construction, law, utilities, banking/insurance and politics.

While I’ve shared my own examples above, international public figures aren’t above this either…

The Characterisation of Public Figures

Hysterical woman

Recently, Amal Clooney, was branded with the ‘hysterical woman’ tag by the New York Post. The headline read ‘Amal Clooney threw a tantrum while meeting with Iraq’s UN ambassador’ and described her tone as ‘dismissive’ and ‘lecturing.’ Yet again, a woman who is passionate about a topic was being portrayed as ‘having a tantrum.’
N.B. This term is often replaced with ‘hysterical,’ ‘desperate,’ ‘feisty’ or similar.

Clooney has been legally representing Yazidi people; the meeting was about bringing captured ISIS fighters to justice. Her request to meet with the PM had been turned down, so she had to settle for the UN Ambassador instead. Should it come as a surprise that she chose to be forceful about such a serious matter?

Above her station

Moving on to Michelle Obama, who recently gave (in my opinion) the most impressive speech during the US Presidential debates. With dignity, poise and emotion, she called out Trump’s behaviour without actually saying his name. Her skillful move made it (almost) impossible for the Trump camp to attack her. If you missed her speech, you can read the transcript here or watch a short replay below.

Michelle Obama spoke passionately about the ‘hurtful, hateful language’ that is used about women.

“This has got to stop right now…If all of this is painful to us as grown women, what do you think this is doing to our children? What messages are our little girls hearing about who they look like, how they should act? What lessons are they learning about their value as professionals, as human beings, about their dreams and aspirations?”

And yet, despite these sentiments that any decent person would agree with, Trump’s team publicly attacked Michelle Obama anyway, saying that she is getting above her station!

The ‘Cold, Calculating Woman’

There’s much that I could write about Hillary Clinton, but I feel that this video by journalist Erza Klein is eloquent enough.

Changing the Dialogue

I’ve worked in Equality and Diversity since 2003. I’m tired of the same old dialogue. I’ve had enough of reports and conferences, which tell us nothing new. I’m fed up of being interrupted. It’s time to disrupt the pattern. While I don’t have all the answers, I have found some strategies that have worked for me. You can download my guide on Influence here.


A bit about me: I’m an experienced Board member who also happens to be female, of an ethnic minority background and usually younger than my fellow Directors. It can be a lonely place and I’d love more women to join me!

I’ve combined 13 years’ experience of advising organisations on equality and workforce development with extensive research into coaching tools and techniques to create LOVE (You), so that other female leaders can benefit from the support that I lacked.

LOVE (You) is a modular growth mindset programme for professional women which combines high quality executive development techniques with deeper self-directed work. Get in touch to discuss how I can support you.

 

Celebrating the German Day of Unity – and wishing for peace

Doves depicting Peace

Today, 3rd November, is the German Day of Unity.  On this day in 1990, reunification took place in Germany. ‘Die Wiedervereinigung’ came about a year after the Berlin Wall went down. At school, during my GCSE and then A’ Level German, I studied reunification and the events leading up to it. Rightly so, and I also won’t forget the euphoria of our German language assistants when the wall came down.

If you are wondering why the Day of Unity isn’t celebrated on the 9th November (the date the wall came down in 1989) the reason is dark. On that day in 1938, Kristallnacht, or ‘Night of Broken Glass’ took place. Kristallnacht was a pogrom against Jewish people in Germany by SA (Storm Division) paramilitary forces and German civilians.

Remembering this feels especially poignant, since today Jewish friends celebrate Rosh Hashanah, a two-day holiday that marks the Jewish New Year.

The falling of the Berlin Wall was a historic event, yet sadly history continues to repeat itself with the proposed wall in Calais. The UK government has refused to confirm costs, but it’s reported to be around £1.9m. Apparently, plants and flowers will be planted on one side of the 13ft high, 1 mile long concrete wall ‘to reduce its visual impact on the local area.’

Experts from a range of organisations – from law firms, to road haulage bodies to think tanks – have deemed it a waste of resources. They say that people will seek ways potentially more dangerous ways to get around it and no doubt they will.

My thoughts are with the innocents that get caught up in all this.  Charities have said that self-harm and mental health problems amongst children have soared in camps like Calais. Even Unicef has criticised the Home Office’s failure to rehouse them.

Children have died trying to seek asylum, including alone children who were trying to get to friends and relatives in the UK.  According to international guidelines, this shouldn’t happen in the first place, yet at least 1000 such minors are in Calais. At least 400 of these are eligible to come to the UK, according to a recent Guardian article.

What can you do?

What can we as individuals do? It can feel so overwhelming. Peace, at times, feels very elusive. I want to help women feel confident and resilient enough to create positive change in society, no matter how small; and to build a network of peers to support each other.

Asylum seekers and refugee women are the group where my own attention is focused, but there’s much to be done for other parts of society too. This is where I felt a network of proactive, influential women was needed; so I founded Inspiring Women Changemakers.

If you’re interested in knowing more about how you can help refugee support organisations or get involved in the movement, please get in touch. My email address is anj@anjhandaassociates.com.

You can also get involved on Facebook or Twitter.

 

Lilith – the Archetype: Claiming your Personal Power

Relationship dynamics and Black Lilith
A drawing I did a couple of years ago during a deep meditation. The black dot represents Lilith.

 

It’s 1st October and the New Moon is in Libra, ruled by Lilith.  Who or what is Lilith, you might ask?  In astrology terms, the Moon traverses an elliptical path around the Earth. An ellipse has two focal points. One focal point is occupied by the Earth. The other focal point, has been called the Dark Moon, the Black Moon or Lilith.

According to Jewish literature, Lilith was Adam’s first wife.  Lilith was created from the same dust as Adam, and therefore refused to lie underneath him during intercourse.  Adam was angry, but Lilith took herself off to Jehovah and uncovered his secret name.  With the power of knowing of his name, she demanded that he give her wings. She then uttered the unutterable (i.e. his name) and flew off.

Adam felt lonely and complained bitterly. It was then that God created a more subservient model, Eve.  Lore says that Lilith also tried to get Eve to take a bite of the apple from the Tree of Knowledge. She did this not to get her banished, but to gain clarity and see Adam’s true colours.

This archetype symbolises our personal power, shadow side and all.  It’s a good time to question your relationship with yourself; and with others. It’s not about ‘Me, Me, Me.’ Rather, it’s about what you stand for and how you show up within the collective. Consider this within the context of relationships/partnerships of all kinds and wider society.

Lilith: Two sides of your personality

Adam and Lilith’s dynamic also reflects the power struggle of patriarchy against women’s equality. Lilith was written off as a baby-harming seductress, who consorted with demonic forces… Isn’t that often the case within patriarchal society? Consider Adam’s fear of Lilith being equal and her fear of him being in control.

I’m talking here about masculine and feminine energies, not women versus men.  Many women in leadership positions, myself included, can be very action-focussed and assertive. It’s a constant work-in-progress.

Sometimes it’s called for; on other occasions a gentler approach is more appropriate.  Then there are situations where men want to be more outwardly expressive emotionally, but worry about being perceived as weak.

Finding the balance

Finding the balance of masculine and feminine within ourselves can be challenging.  Are there situations where you are excessively dominant; or conversely, too willing to people please?

Where do you give your power away: at work, in sexual relationships, within your family?  When do you stay quiet when you should speak up?  Where in your life is there imbalance?  These are the bigger questions that you should be asking yourself now.

This energy can be used for you to deeply consider how you can step up into the most powerful, principled, compassionate version of yourself.  It’s time to stop shrinking, just because others seem to expect it.  Claim your inner power, my lovely!


About Me

Through my signature coaching programme, LOVE (You), I work with professional people who have experienced emotional trauma (bereavement, breakup, serious illness, redundancy) and are sick and tired of feeling overwhelmed, lethargic or stuck.

I help people to re-connect with themselves and others; develop plans for a more positive and fulfilled future; and start to look forward with positivity.  I love to witness the visible transformation in them.

I only have a couple of spaces left on my programme this month, so email me now at anj@anjhandaassociates.com if you’re ready for change!

 

The ‘Trim Tab’ Effect: What every campaigner should know

Being an Effective Campaigner requires Quality, Team Spirit, Fairness and HonestyToday, I’d love to illustrate how integrity, fairness, professionalism and the right connections can create huge momentum behind social action, where force and protest may not.

I’ve experienced the ‘trim tab’ effect in my own work as a campaigner. Sure, I had advantages, such as prior experience of working with policy-makers and MPs; and being trained in public speaking and media handling. I now teach these skills. Approach is everything though…

 

Here’s just one of the anonymous testimonials I’ve been blessed to receive:

“I don’t know Anj Handa personally, but she’s the person who got me write to Theresa May regarding the deportation… I’m almost 5o and have never written in protest before, but someone has to say “This is wrong.”

In a digital age with ease of access to information and protest, where so many causes, so many voices and so much noise dilutes rather than engages, I have found Anj Handa to be a model of information who cares about people and their rights.

Anj Handa is a modern day campaigner. She speaks from a place of positivity and the belief that she can create change. She has been a consistent force for changing attitudes…”

What the heck are ‘Trim Tabs?!’

I was delighted to have found (via the Facebook page of a campaigner that I respect) a great analogy by WWI US Naval Officer, Bucky Fuller.

In a 1972 Playboy interview (honestly!), Fuller talked about momentum and the “trim tab.” These are small surfaces that are connected to the trailing edge of a larger control surface on a boat or plane. Trim Tabs counteract hydro- or aerodynamic forces and gently stabilise the craft without the operator needing to constantly apply a controlling force. Just as an effective campaigner will do.

Want to be a great campaigner? Take note!

In Fuller’s interview, he was asked the following question: “How we can live with a sense of the individual’s impotence to affect events, to improve or even influence our own welfare, let alone that of society.”

Many of us would love to know the answer to that. Fuller’s reply was perfect:

“Something hit me very hard once, thinking about what one little man could do. Think of the Queen Elizabeth — the whole ship goes by and then comes the rudder. And there’s a tiny thing at the edge of the rudder called a trim tab. It’s a miniature rudder. Just moving the little trim tab builds a low pressure that pulls the rudder around. Takes almost no effort at all. So I said that the little individual can be a trim tab.

Society thinks it’s going right by you, that it’s left you altogether. But if you’re doing dynamic things mentally, the fact is that you can just put your foot out like that and the whole big ship of state is going to go. So I said, “Call me Trim Tab.”

The truth is that you get the low pressure to do things, rather than getting on the other side and trying to push the bow of the ship around. And you build that low pressure by getting rid of a little nonsense, getting rid of things that don’t work and aren’t true until you start to get that trim-tab motion. It works every time. That’s the grand strategy you’re going for.

So I’m positive that what you do with yourself, just the little things you do yourself, these are the things that count. To be a real trim tab, you’ve got to start with yourself, and soon you’ll feel that low pressure, and suddenly things begin to work in a beautiful way. Of course, they happen only when you’re dealing with really great integrity.”


A bit about me:

I led a high-profile, award-winning campaign in 2014 to help an asylum seeker and her two young girls on the grounds of the risk of Female Genital Mutilation. You can read the press releases here.

The public’s support was incredible. Almost 128,000 people signed my petition, enough to get the national and international media interested in the story. We got MPs to speak out and even found a legal team to submit applications on her behalf.

Many letters were sent to Theresa May, including one supported by the West Yorkshire Playhouse and around 20 directors, playwrights and performers. Thousands tweeted Virgin Airlines boss Richard Branson and stopped the first scheduled deportation.

If we all do a little, it can lead to major change. If I can become a recognised campaigner and bring about a movement like this, me – with no training, funding or existing experience – so can you! With a growing number of amazing women, I’m creating a movement called Inspiring Women Changemakers. Join us!

Metamorphosis: Emerging from a Dark Night of the Soul

Dark night of the soul is like a butterfly's transformation

Life over the last four years has at times been gruelling for myself and many others in my circle. Many of us have broken down, then broken through.  In some cases, including my own – first in 2012, then again towards the end of the last year – a “dark night of the soul” took place.

“Dark night of the soul” means different things to different people. To me, it means a complete crisis of confidence.  It doesn’t always mean depression; but rather a depressed state, where energy is low, life has lost its lustre and it’s difficult to find meaning.

It can be a questioning of everything you’ve ever known about yourself. What is true and what no longer holds? Your personal and professional status; relationships; friendships… all are held under a magnifying glass.

Some even question their reason for being. Fortunately, my appreciation of my life purpose was one of the things I had to hold on to. I feel it got me through my own dark night less painfully than might otherwise have been. There was also a book that I and thousands of others have found helpful: ‘Daring Greatly’ by Brené Brown, a research professor and vulnerability and shame expert.

A dark night of the soul can, in many cases, be triggered by traumatic life events, such as a bereavement, breakup or redundancy.  I myself have experienced all of these circumstances. Now I specialise in coaching professional clients (at a point after they’ve been through the early grieving process and received specialist support). I help them to release residual pain that remains following such traumas.

It’s not good for us to hang on to pain. We have to learn how to let go in order to heal. Most of us will experience it at some point in our lives and from my personal observations, it seems to happen from late 30s onwards.  In fact, I wonder how many times it’s been referred to as a mid-life crisis, instead of the transformational process that it really is.

Emerging from the dark night like a butterfly from a chrysalis

The dark night of the soul is a bereavement of sorts itself. It’s the death of the ego, a stripping away of your inner layers, bit by bit. It hurts! And much as I hate to break it to you, you have to work through the pain. The process can last days, months, even years. There’s no fast-track way to end this journey.

I want to let you know that it’s worth it. Like the caterpillar that crawls into its cocoon, you will digest yourself, breaking down your component parts.  Some of those parts of you will remain and morph into something new. You will even develop imaginal discs: parts of you that may or may not be revealed throughout your life.

You’ll eventually emerge from your chrysalis of doom and gloom. Tentatively, you’ll flap your new, wet wings.  It will take you time to practice flying, but you will fly sooner or later, I promise!

The Bright Side

The dark night of the soul happens for a reason.  You’ve started to understand what really matters to you, even if it’s simply by reflecting on what doesn’t matter.

As you start to get used to this raw, new version of you, you will start to feel part of something much, much bigger. Trivial matters won’t bother you as they once did, because you’ve been through the worst that you can imagine.

The concept of love will also start to extend out from your inner circle to embrace more and more people. You become more compassionate.  Hell, you even start to feel forgiveness for people you felt had wronged you in the past (P.S. This doesn’t mean you should take back that toxic ex or meet a former bitchy friend for coffee)!

If you’re currently going through this process, I hope my blog helped and I’m sending my love to you. If you’ve already been through it, I hope that it resonated. Now go shine!


A bit about me:

I’ve experienced many setbacks in life, from bereavements, redundancy, breakups and money worries. Something shifted in me following a friend’s suicide a few years ago – it led to my first experience of a dark night of the soul. After a period of grieving and reflection, I decided that it was time to change and I started on a journey of self-discovery.

I now want to share the tools and techniques that transformed my own life with you. Using my deep intuition, tons of life experience and professional skills, I create a safe, open environment for clients to learn and try things for themselves. Read more about my signature coaching programme, LOVE (You) here.